My apprentices have arrived with thirteen jars of pineapple jelly, and one by one, they pour them into the cauldron. Tonight, I’m teaching them a recipe that I learned while temporarily dead, during which time I worked in the underworld’s highly competitive seafood scene. The golden ooze begins to bubble as saltwater and black rum are added, combining into a thick, honeyed lava. I dip my sword into the concoction and stir it gently, watching wounds form and heal along the surface of the mixture.
Next, they bring in the still-writhing sea-serpent. Its marlin-like face punctuates a body as long as three men, and it takes all the musculature in their youthful bodies to handle its slippery, aubergine skin. “Maestro!” One of them yells. “Hurry! We can’t keep this up for much longer!”
It figures; it’ll have to be an imperfect ritual tonight. I quickly wipe both sides of the blade off against the edge of the massive kettle, whose cast iron shrieks in response. “Hold it steady, then, for god’s sakes!” They’re wriggling almost as much as the beast itself, but it’ll have to do. A single slash isn’t enough to take the monster’s head off cleanly, but it still manages to fracture the base of its skull. Black blood sprays all over their crimson uniforms, mixing with the coating of mucus that had already soaked their linens.
The body continues jerking, but without intent, mindless and easy to handle. Its dead weight slides easily into the vat, which they carefully coil so as to completely submerge it within the saccharine goo. I pass my weapon to an assistant, who continues sliding its edge through the mixture, slowly dividing meat from bone and preventing it from coagulating. The serpent’s blood darkens the pineapple until it takes on a hepatizon shade.
By midnight, the serpent has been completely disassembled. Its leathery hide has been laid out as long ribbons along the checkerboard floor, and its obsidian skeleton has been rinsed and mostly reconstructed. The tender, sweet flesh is then distributed upon marble slates. Each mound is served alongside a dollop of dolphin’s milk yoghurt and a rosebush confit, thorns still intact for texture.
All eleven of the plates are brought into the feeding chamber, then placed equidistantly around the circular pit within. The bones are arranged about the perimeter in such a manner that the skull appears to be swallowing the tail of the spine, completing a morbid ouroboros. Its ribs are splayed out like wings. Hopefully, our clientele doesn’t notice the damage to its neck, for they specifically requested that the beast be cooked alive.
Once everyone is safely out of the room, together, we pull the rope that rings the massive bell hanging from its ceiling. Then, we wait for our gods to rise.